December 2023. The Village Zendo’s annual year-end Zen retreat, at the Garrison Institute (a former Catholic monastery) on the Hudson River. This year I was a monitor of the meditation hall, responsible for everyone staying awake, sitting up straight and silent and still, finding a comfortable posture, and keeping to the schedule. We had a lot of inexperienced meditators who were clearly in pain after the first day. I met with them and discussed options for sitting on a chair, or a seiza bench, or a cushion, and how to position their backs and shoulders. The meditation hall settled down noticeably for the rest of the week.

I photographed some meditation sessions on Portra 400 with my Mamiya 7. The room was dark and the photos generally underexposed, so the colors are muddy in several of these. Next year I’ll bring ISO 800 film and a tripod.

Images © A. Jesse Jiryu Davis